News Analysis |
Mr. Asif Ali Zardari, former president of Pakistan and co-chairperson of Pakistan’s peoples’ party, while in an interview to a local channel has confessed that ‘fake accounts’ has been a common practice in Sind and Punjab. “Fictitious accounts in Sindh and Punjab aren’t a new thing. If they want to arrest me in fake accounts case they can, but first they have to prove that I went to the bank and got an account opened”, said Mr. Zardari.
When asked about his connection to the accused involved in the fake account scam, he said he had nothing to do with that. Mr. Zardari defended Anwar Majeed, the neighbour of former’s father, saying Mr. Majeed, 77-years-old, didn’t run his business on his own and his managers might have had made fake accounts. Mr. Anwar Majeed of Omni Groups is among other top guns including Asif Ali Zardari himself, being investigated by FIA in cases pertaining to money-laundering through fake accounts.
Abdul Qadir, a resident of Orangi Town, Karachi, only came to know about the money when he got a letter from the Federal Investigation Agency.
The Joint Investigating Team (JIT), formed by the Supreme Court, has been inquiring into the money laundering of Rs 35 billion. In many cases dormant accounts of poor people have been activated with the connivance of some bank officials for huge transactions. The JIT has been probing since September into cases revealing several suspicious accounts.
The FIA is investigating 32 people in connection with money laundering from fictitious accounts, including former president Asif Ali Zardari, his sister Faryal Talpur, Omni Group’s Anwar Majeed, former Pakistan Stock Exchange chairman Hussain Lawai and Summit Bank Senior Vice-President Taha Raza.
Read more: Zardari’s statement: Idle threats or promise of retribution?
Investigations so far have revealed that several ‘benami’ accounts at some private banks were opened in 2013, 2014 and 2015 from where transactions worth billions of rupees were made.The amount is said to be black money gathered from various kickbacks, commissions and bribes.
Who wants to be a Billionaire
Whether the accused will be brought to justice or not, the whole money-laundering scam has at least made certain people of the underprivileged segment of society get involved into the case unnecessarily. The startling revelation during probe showed bank accounts of dead people being operated in Karachi with transactions amounting to billions.
Omni Groups is among other top guns including Asif Ali Zardari himself, being investigated by FIA in cases pertaining to money-laundering through fake accounts.
Not only dead persons, but similar transaction were also observed with bank accounts of rickshaw drivers and ice cream vendor too in Karachi. A poor street vendor, ice-cream (falooda) salesman, came under the radar of investigation agencies after a hefty amount of Rs 2.25 billion was discovered in his bank account. Abdul Qadir, a resident of Orangi Town, Karachi, only came to know about the money when he got a letter from the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA).
Read more: Zardari, Talpur appear before FIA; record statements in money laundering case
“My brother told me that there’s a letter from the investigation agency in my name and that I have been summoned,” he told the media. “I am the world’s number one unlucky person. I have, as they say, billions in my account but I cannot use some of it to at least somewhat improve my state of living,” said Qadir.
In another similar incident, a rickshaw driver, Mohammad Rasheed, who saved 300 rupees in a year time to buy his daughter a bike, found out that three billion rupees had passed through an unused bank account in his name. “I started sweating and shivering,” said the 43-year-old – when he got a call from the Federal Investigation Agency.
For many the benami transactions is an indicator of the extent of corruption in the country. The use of the accounts of the dead and powerless shows the extent to which the powerful will go to hide their ill-gotten wealth.